Every year the hockey media gets all excited for the NHL trade deadline, spreading all sorts of rumors about all the big deals that are supposedly in the works. Then the trade deadline comes and goes and almost nothing interesting happens.
This year is different, though. Yesterday alone there were 20 trades, the day before that there were 10, and in the five days preceding that there were three. That adds up to a whopping 33 pre-deadline transactions, which included a number of guys who could rightly be described at superstars. And if you blinked, you missed it.
Of course, if you weren’t glued to your phone yesterday afternoon, you probably don’t care that the Blues traded Mark Mancari to the Panthers for Eric Selleck, or that the Oilers acquired the Ducks backup goalie, Viktor Fasth, for a couple of late-round draft picks. You just want to know what big names are wearing different sweaters, and what it all means.
That’s where we come in. Today we’re going to get you up to speed so you’re not thinking “WTF?” on Sunday when you see a different guy wearing the “C” for the New York Rangers.
Minnesota Wild acquire Ilya BryzbalovEdmonton Oilers acquire 4th Round Pick (2014)
This one wasn't the biggest trade pulled off at the deadline, but it was one of the most surprising. Everyone knew the Wild needed to add depth between the pipes with Niklas Backstrom battling injuries and Josh Harding battling symptoms of multiple sclerosis. However, we figured they'd go for one of the other guys on the market—say, Martin Brodeur or Tim Thomas—rather than the goofy Russian guy who tends to suck in the playoffs.
But no, the Wild decided to be cheap, and now they have excellent rookie Darcy Kuemper and Ilya Bryzgalov. Stay tuned because this could be interesting.
9. Ilya Bryzgalov for 4th Round Pick
Anaheim Ducks acquire Stephane RobidasDallas Stars acquire Conditional 4th Round Pick (2014)
Veteran defenseman Stephane Robidas has been out of the lineup since November after suffering a serious leg break. However, he is now practicing at full speed again, and if he gets in the Ducks lineup and remains healthy he will be a huge boost for a team whose only weakness is depth on defense.
Why did Dallas let him go when they are currently in possession of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference? Because getting to the playoffs and having a legitmate chance at winning the Stanley Cup are two different things.
8. Stephane Robidas for Conditional 4th Round Pick
Ottawa Senators acquire Ales HemskyEdmonton Oilers acquire 5th Round Pick (2014) and 3rd Round Pick (2015)
Ales Hemsky is a talented but mercurial player. This year has been a down one, as he's only got nine goals and 26 points though 56 games. Then again, he was playing for Edmonton, a team that could make anyone look bad. From 2007 through 2009, when the Oilers weren't putrid, the guy had 43 goals and 137 points, so he obviously got talent and is definitely worth a 3rd rounder and a 5th rounder. Now he'll be playing on a line centered by Jason Spezza, which certainly won't hurt.
7. Hemsky for 5th & 3rd Round Picks
Washington Capitals acquire Dustin PennerAnaheim Ducks acquire 4th Round Pick
The Ducks are loaded with forwards, so using depth there to acquire a pick that you turn into Stephane Robidas on defense makes sense in theory. But it's still kind of hard to say—with a straight face—that the Ducks are better today than they were on Monday when they had the 6'4" 250-pound winger in the lineup.
Meanwhile, from Washington's perspective, they probably got the biggest steal of any team in the league. With his size, skill, and experience (two Cups) Penner is a top-six forward on all but a handful of teams in the league. For a 4th rounder, this is a bargain.
6. Penner for 4th Round Pick
Los Angeles Kings acquire Marian GaborikColumbus Blue Jackets acquire Matt Frattin, Conditional Picks
Gaborik is another one of those mercurial types. When he's healthy and clicking, he's lethal. When he's not, he's useless. So why would the Kings, who play such a heavy two-way game, take a chance on an offense-only player? Because, as usual, scoring touch is the one thing these guys lack.
If Gaborik does play up to his potential the Kings will be significantly better.
5. Gaborik for Frattin
Islanders acquire Thomas VanekSabres acquire Moulson, 1st Round Pick, 2nd Round Pick
Now wait, you say, this wasn't a deadline trade. The Sabres and Islanders swapped their pending UFA stars way back in October! Well, that's right. However, you have to go back to the original trade to understand how this one plays out all the way.
You see, incompetent Islanders GM Garth Snow decided to "go for it" when he sent three-time 30-goal scorer Moulson and two very valuable draft picks to rebuilding Buffalo for Vanek. Then John Tavares hurt his knee at the Olympics, ruining the Islanderes season, so Snow decided to cut his losses by dealing Vanek to the Canadiens for Sebastien Collberg and a 2nd round pick. Meanwhile, the Sabres turned around and traded Moulson and Cody McCormick to the Wild for Torrey Mitchell and two more second round draft picks.
So basically, if the Islanders had just kept Moulson until the dealine and then traded him, they could have come out ahead with two 2nd round draft picks. Instead, they came out of it losing a 1st round pick.
The Sabres, meanwhile, turned Vanek into one 1st round pick and two 2nd round picks.
The lesson? Garth Snow is not good at his job.
4. Vanek for Moulson
Florida Panthers acquire Roberto Luongo Vancouver Canucks acquire Jacob MarkstromVancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis finally put an end to Vancouver's goaltender drama. Unfortunately, he did it way too late.
You see, when the Canucks decided to make Corey Schneider their number one goalie during the 2012 playoffs, everyone knew Roberto Luongo's days with the Canucks were numbered. The logical thing to do was trade him in the offseason and unload his ridiculous 12-year contract with a $5.33 million cap hit. And the super rich Maple Leafs wanted to take him off their hands.
Did Gillis make the trade, though? No. He thought they should get more for such a high-quality netminder, so instead he opted to keep a miserable (but still classy) Luongo around as Schneider's backup.
Then Gillis shocked everybody by trading Schneider prior to this season, making Luongo the number one guy again.
And then, this week, the Canucks traded Luongo, too. And now Vancouver has Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom as their goaltending tandem.
Nice work, Gillis.
3. Luongo for Markstrom
St. Louis Blues acquire Ryan Miller and Steve OttBuffalo Sabres acquire Jaroslav Halak and Chris Stewart
Statistically there's not a big difference between Halak and Miller. Both have very similar career GAAs and save percentages. However, Miller has a Vezina and an Olympics MVP award on his resume, and as a result he is perceived to be more "elite" then Halak. False perception might seem like a silly reason to make a trade, but in the playoffs the confidence a team has in its goalie can be the difference between feeling hopeless and fighting back against adversity. So given that everybody got what they needed—Buffalo went and flipped Halak to Washington for two young players—we'll call this a win-win.
As for the Ott-Stewart component in this trade, people who don't watch these guys play but instead just look at stat sheets think the Blues got fleeced. After all, Stewart is a big talented 30-goal scorer who led the team in goals last year. However, the fact is Stewart is a streaky player, and when he's not scoring a bunch of goals he brings absolutely nothing to the table. That just doesn't fit with St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock's defensive system.
Ott, however, is a gritty "character" guy who already knows how to play Hitch's system because he did it in Dallas. So St. Louis does actually improve with this deal.
But that's not to say Buffalo doesn't also improve. Chances are they will trade Stewart at some point since he is unde contract for another year, adding to their growing stockpile of young talent and draft picks. So we'll call this aspect of the trade a win-win, too.
2. Miller & Ott for Halak & Stewart
New York Rangers acquire Martin St. LouisTampa Bay Lightning acquire Ryan Callahan, 1st Round Pick (2015), 2nd Round Pick (2014)
The biggest and also most unnecessary trade of the 2014 NHL trade deadline is the St. Louis-Callahan deal. The only reason this had to happen is that St. Louis—a fully grown, 38-year-old man—had a temper tantrum when his GM, Steve Yzerman, didn't select him for Team Canada's initial Olympic roster. You would think a guy of that age would have a little perspective and understand that it was nothing personal, but no. He was pissed, and even though he eventually got to play in the Olympics, he asked to be traded.
Of course, everyone ends up okay in this deal. The Rangers swapped a young star for an old one and had to give up some good draft picks, so it may seem like they got screwed. However, Callahan is an unrestricted free agent after this year and the team was afraid they'd have to pay him too much money. So they swapped captains with the Lightning and got a very good player who's under contract for another year, which you could say is making the best of a bad situation.
Meanwhile, the Lightning lose a cry baby and gain at least two good draft picks. So they did fine, too.
1. St. Louis for Callahan
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